London getting to be like home game for Nets

The Associated PressJanuary 17, 2014 

Former Beatle Paul McCartney, left, with daughter Stella, got one of the biggest ovations during the Nets-Hawks game in London.

KIRSTY WIGGLESWORTH/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

LONDON — The Brooklyn Nets should think about making another franchise move — to London.

The Nets improved to 3-0 in regular-season NBA games in the British capital with a 127-110 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday.

Joe Johnson, who spent seven years with the Hawks, led the way for the Nets at the O2 Arena. The Brooklyn guard scored 26 of his game-high 29 points in the first half, and he nailed two buzzer-beating 3-pointers.

“We just exploited mismatches,” Johnson said. “I was just feeding off these guys.”

Three years ago, the then-New Jersey Nets played two regular-season games at the O2 Arena, the venue used for the gold-medal basketball game at the 2012 London Olympics. They beat the Toronto Raptors in both of those games.

Last year, the New York Knicks beat the Detroit Pistons in the third regular-season London game.

Although the crowd seemed to save its loudest cheers for off-the-court action, both teams finished the game with five players scoring in double digits.

Andray Blatche had 20 points and 14 rebounds for the Nets. Paul Pierce contributed 18 points.

Mike Scott and Shelvin Mack led the Hawks with 17 points each off the bench.

Johnson ended the first half with a 3-pointer at the buzzer to make it 65-53. The Nets further pulled away in the third quarter, with Johnson again finishing it off with a buzzer-beating 3 to make it 99-74.

Besides the game, the fans often cheered wildly for the entertainment between quarters and timeouts, and for one famous guest — Beatles great Paul McCartney, who was flashed up on the big screen in the third quarter as “Hey Jude” blared inside the venue.

SLAM DUNKS

Rondo near ready: Barring any setbacks, Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo will make his season debut Friday night against the Lakers, team president of basketball operations Danny Ainge confirmed Thursday. Rondo has been out since Jan. 25, 2013, because of a torn ligament in his right knee.

Lakers’ Young suspended: Lakers guard Nick Young was suspended one game without pay for throwing a punch at Suns guard Goran Dragic with 7:33 left in the second quarter of Los Angeles’ 121-114 loss Wednesday night.

Obscene gesture worth $15,000: The NBA fined Magic guard Jameer Nelson $15,000 for making an obscene gesture with 11 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter of Wednesday night’s 128-125 loss in triple overtime to the Bulls.

Fastbreaks: The Lakers signed guard Manny Harris to a 10-day contract. Harris is leading the NBA Development League this season in scoring, averaging 30.6 points per game. … The Thunder signed free-agent point guard Royal Ivey, a 10-year NBA veteran who spent two seasons with Oklahoma City, to a 10-day contract.

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